Letters

Letters 02-08-2016

Less Ageism, Please The January 4 issue of this publication proved to me that there are some sensible voices of reason in our community regarding all things “inter-generational.” I offer a word of thanks to Elizabeth Myers. I too have worked hard for what I’ve earned throughout my years in the various positions I’ve held. While I too cannot speak for each millennial, brash generalizations about a lack of work ethic don’t sit well with me...Joe Connolly, Traverse City

Now That’s an Escalation I just read the letter from Greg and his defense of the AR15. The letter started with great information but then out of nowhere his opinion went off the rails. “The government wants total gun control and then confiscation; then the elimination of all Constitutional rights.” Wait... what?! To quote the great Ron Burgundy, “Well, that escalated quickly!”

Healthy Eating and Exercise for Children Healthy foods and exercise are important for children of all ages. It is important for children because it empowers them to do their best at school and be able to do their homework and study...

Mascots and Harsh Native American Truths The letter from the Choctaw lady deserves an answer. I have had a gutful of the whining about the fate of the American Indian. The American Indians were the losers in an imperial expansion; as such, they have, overall, fared much better than a lot of such losers throughout history. Everything the lady complains about in the way of what was done by the nasty, evil Whites was being done by Indians to other Indians long before Europeans arrived...

Snyder Must Go I believe it’s time. It’s time for Governor Snyder to go. The FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the EPA Criminal Investigation Division are now investigating the Flint water crisis that poisoned thousands of people. Governor Snyder signed the legislation that established the Emergency Manager law. Since its inception it has proven to be a dismal failure...

Erosion of Public Trust Let’s look at how we’ve been experiencing global warming. Between 1979 and 2013, increases in temperature and wind speeds along with more rain-free days have combined to stretch fire seasons worldwide by 20 percent. In the U.S., the fire seasons are 78 days longer than in the 1970s...

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Sharing the Hours with Mrs. Dalloway: Two takes on the Tragic Virginia Woolf

Nancy Sundstrom - January 30th, 2003
“There‘s just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we‘ve ever imagined.... Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.“ – Virginia Woolf, “Mrs. Dalloway“

With the recent Golden Globe wins and predicted Oscar nominations for Stephen Daldry’s “The Hours,“ media and literary attention allover the world has made a cause celebre out of Michael Cunningham’s acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel 1998 novel of the same name, and Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway,’ the 1925 book on which “The Hours“ is based.
For many, the film is proving a springboard to familiarity with both of these works, as is often the case when a successful film springs forth from a work of literature. Whether pulp fiction like “Jaws,“ “The Exorcist,“ or “The Godfather,“ or something with more classic roots, such as a “Dr. Zhivago“ or “The English Patient,“ a popular movie can send fans scurrying out to buy the book, which has happened with the books from Cunningham and Woolf.
In case you’re curious about either, the following might serve as a primer, and something that could assist in heightening your appreciation of the new film, which seems fast on its way to becoming one of 2002‘s most respected films. Hopefully, it will also steer you in the direction of the book itself, which has been hailed, and deservedly so, as a modern masterpiece.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham
The plot for the film adaptation of “The Hours“ remains close to its source, concentrating on two women from different generations whose stories are connected by “Mrs. Dalloway.“ In fact, author Cunningham even does a Hitchcockian cameo when he walks past Meryl Streep in one scene as she goes into a flower shop.
In 1949 Los Angeles, Laura Brown, a pregnant housewife played by Julianne Moore, is planning a birthday party for her husband, but she can‘t stop reading “Mrs. Dalloway.“ Years later in New York, Clarissa Vaughn (Streep), is also throwing a party for her former lover and now good friend Richard, a famous author dying of AIDS (Ed Harris). These two stories are simultaneously linked to the work and life of Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) circa London 1923, who is writing “Mrs. Dalloway,“ a story about a woman throwing a party, and struggling with the emotional battles that will eventually lead her to take her own life.
As a novel, “The Hours“ is very much an open love letter to Woolf and “Dalloway,“ even while it acquits itself as its own unique entity. Woolf served as Cunningham’s muse, and even his title is the working one Woolf used for her creation. In Cunningham’s he cuts back and forth across time, seamlessly intertwining the lives of the three women, one example being that one of the characters has the same first name, Clarissa, as the heroine of Woolf’s book, and that her situation mirrors Dalloway. Clarissa has even been nicknamed “Mrs. Dalloway“ by her friend Richard.
In regards to Laura, in an earlier chapter, Cunningham has Woolf starting to write the first line of “Mrs. Dalloway,“ which is “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.“ When the modernday housewife reads that line, she is transported from her own unhappy, stifled existence and plunged into Woolf’s fictional universe, which was also the author’s haven from her own demons. And so it goes, as two fictional characters, and one real life icon and one of her beloved works work in tandem with each other.
Crafting “The Hours“ had to have been a formidable challenge for Cunningham, and given that this was just his third novel (following “At Home at the End of the World“ and “Flesh and Blood“), the end result is passionate and moving, a compelling tribute to Woolf’s genius, personal pain, and professional impact. Simply read the prologue of this often exquisite book, which begins with an account of Woolf’s suicide in 1941, and I can guarantee that the hours you spend from that point on in “The Hours“ will be ones you will treasure.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
It’s a chicken-and-the-egg question as to whether one is better served by reading “The Hours“ or “Mrs. Dalloway“ first, but one thing is certain - these two books are companion pieces to each other.
Along with “To the Lighthouse,“ this is the other ground-breaking book by Woolf (1882-1941) that helped establish her as one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century as she transformed the art of the novel, in addition to authoring numerous collections of letters, journals, short stories, and essays.
“Mrs. Dalloway“ begins as Clarissa Dalloway, the 50-something wife of an English military policeman, is leaving her home in London on a beautiful June morning to buy flowers for a party she is having. That simple act begins a chain of events, such as watching a sky writing plane in the sky and listening to Big Ben toll away the hours in this day-in-the-life, that will link her existence with a number of others, such as a beau she turned down years earlier, her daughter Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s hostile teacher, and a shell shocked army veteran losing his own private battle with madness.
As Mrs. Dalloway readies herself for the evening’s party, tensions mount and twists of fate occur that take the hostess to places of introspection and memories long left behind. The arrival on the scene of former suitor Peter Walsh gives way to recalling a tender friendship with Sally Seton, as Woolf has Mrs. Dalloway reflect on the complexities of relationships between and among the sexes: “It was something central which permeated; something warm which broke up surfaces and rippled the cold contact of man and woman, or of women together.... Her relation in the old days with Sally Seton. Had not that, after all, been love?“
That sort of immersion into one’s most private thoughts, balanced with vivid and richly detailed moments of everyday life, are part of why “Mrs. Dalloway“ has touched readers for generations, and its themes of love, loss, hope, choice, desire, responsibility, alliances, and regret not only paint a picture of a specific era in time, but resonate still today with grace and power, especially in their simplicity. And that, friends, is what makes for a classic.

 
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